BES victims see judge’s removal as “an opportunity”
Nuno da Silva Vieira in one of the many interviews he has given on this long-running case

BES victims see judge’s removal as “an opportunity”

Opens way to addressing destination of seized assets

Definitely working on the ‘glass half-full concept, the lawyer representing the roughly 1,600 victims of the BES banking collapse eight years ago believes the enforced change of judge in the case after months of inaction could be an “opportunity”.

Nuno Silva Vieira told Lusa that his clients see the development as a possibility to address issues that have been glossed over this far – like what should happen to seized assets, and where they should go.

Public prosecutors have always maintained that asset seizures that went on in the early days were designed to ensure victims received reimbursement.

Since then, the ‘seized assets’ have essentially remained where they were at the point of seizure, being ‘enjoyed’ (certainly used) by defendants.

Nuno Silva Vieira says his clients “are aware that the law protects them”.

They are not feeling at this point that the arrival of a new judge will compromise the pre-trial phase, due to come to an end on February 23 next year.

They also believe this case – being the most complex criminal inquiry in Portuguese investigative history – is one that could be the making of incoming ‘rookie’ judge Pedro dos Santos Correia.

“We want to believe that the exclusivity given to this judge” (meaning the fact that he will be working on BES/GES alone, taking on no other cases) “will serve to ensure the process has no delay relating to the change of hands”, the victims’ lawyer continued, stressing evidence “cannot be affected” by a mere change in judges.

Thus, 24-hours on from the shock news yesterday, victims of the BES/ GES collapse are certainly not despondent. The reason for Judge Rosa’s removal at this particular point however is still shrouded in mystery, bearing in mind he remains responsible for another complex (and very political) investigation, involving the Socialist government of José Sócrates and a number of players who are still active in politics today.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com